As we approach the end of the season and that awful time called ‘the cricket season’ in England, I thought I would take a look at what constitutes a successful year.
The Summer is a truly dreadful period when us footy fans be come morose and irritable. We suffer from SAD, Seasonal Adjustment Disorder, it’s just that we get in in the Summer.
Apparently there is some minor International European tournament on this year, but it isn’t one of sufficient quality for England to want to take part. I might give it a look, but I think it will only have minor teams in it like Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Portugal. I think England should have sent a team, I reckon we could have won it and built up our confidence ahead of more serious challenges.
Anyway, I digress. What is success?
Well, in the Premier League it is a fact that only one team can be Champions. Only one team can win the FA Cup, the Carling Cup and possibly the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. So if you define success as actually winning something, there are a maximum of five successful teams.
Is finishing in the top four a successful season? Well, yes it probably is, but I don’t think you would get too many Chelsea or Arsenal fans to agree with that sentiment at the moment. If Everton had managed to finish fourth, I’m sure they would believe the season had been very successful.
How can finishing seventeenth be regarded as success? Ask Bolton, Birmingham and Reading fans. They’d kill for a seventeenth placed finish right now.
If Manchester United win the Premier League but get knocked out of the Champions League semi-finals, would that be successful? Of course it would.
If Chelsea finish second in the league and win the Champions League, would that be successful? I think so.
If Liverpool finish fourth in the Premier League and get to the Champions League final is that successful? Probably.
If Arsenal……sorry Arsenal fans.
The Carling Cup was, as we all know won by Tottenham. They won one of only five competitions it is possible to win. They must, therefore have had a successful season. I’m not sure that they have though. If you had told a Tottenham fan before the season that they would be in eleventh place with a couple of games to go they would have probably been suicidal.
Portsmouth may well win the FA Cup. Put that together with a probable top seven finish and their season is a great success for everyone to see.
I suppose the point I’m making is that success is defined very differently for every club. The top three do not believe they have succeeded if they don’t win the Premier League or the Champions League. Liverpool do not believe they have succeeded if they don’t finish in the top four and progress well in the Champions League.
Everton have not been successful if they don’t get close to the top four. At the other end of the table it is obvious that staying up is successful.
I would probably go as far up the table as Sunderland. For them, Wigan, Reading, Birmingham, Bolton, Fulham and Derby, survival would constitute great success.
What about the rest of the teams in the middle of the league. How can they say whether their season has been successful or not? Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Blackburn, West Ham, Tottenham and Newcastle. If you take out Tottenham and Portsmouth because of their cup success and probably Aston Villa because of the huge potential they have shown at times, that leaves Manchester City, Blackburn, West Ham and Newcastle. Good seasons or bad? Success or failure?
Should Eriksson, Hughes, Curbishley and Keegan be looking for new jobs or signing extended contracts?
The fact is that bottom placed Derby manager Paul Jewell is probably safe. Whoever survives out of Gary Megson and Alex McLeish will probably keep their job. Steve Coppell would, I assume, be safe at Reading whatever happens.
Roy Hodgson at Fulham will probably be ‘moved upstairs’ but not totally lose his job.
It seems to me that apart from Gary Megson if Bolton are relegated, the only manager likely to his lose his job straight away at the end of the season is Avram Grant at Chelsea. They are likely to finish second in the Premier League and could still win the Champions League. So mid-table mediocrity is sufficient success for some clubs, survival is sufficient success for some others, and even expected relegation is acceptable to others. Coming at least really close in the biggest two tournaments is disaster for some.
How did we allow the Premier League to become so unbalanced? How did we let the competition break into three the way it has? How did we create a league whereby someone can to all intents and purposes achieve great things but lose their job, and others fail but keep theirs?
I don’t know the answer to all of this but we need somehow to balance up the Premier League. We need to make all teams more equal so that the expectations on some managers are not so much higher than on others. It is often said by top sports people going into an event that they “wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we could win.”
I have heard people say that there is no point in taking part if you don’t think you’re going to win. So where does that leave our national game when realistically only three teams, maybe four, go into a competition of twenty teams with any hope whatsoever of being successful?
We need a rethink and we need to have some sort of handicap system so that if the Glory Hornets do stumble over the line this season, we enter the league on a level playing field with a chance of success. Maybe only allowing all the other teams to have eight players, or only letting them score in one of the halves? If we do something like that we might just grab that seventeenth spot and be successful!